All Aboard The Hype Train – Mercedes Unimog Blows 70 Candles

On October 9, 1946, the Unimog Prototype 1 completed its first test drive, and Mercedes-Benz, understandably, wants to celebrate this anniversary.

However, before being transformed into a fully working prototype, one that had no bonnet and “was fully laden with wood, on rough forest roads”, as the carmaker explains, the Unimog had its fair share of shortages, blamed on the post-war era.

The man behind the project was Albert Friedrich. He began developing the concept in October 1944, just as the allied forces were sweeping through Germany, and in September 1945 he presented a blueprint to the board of directors, who showed little interest in it. Despite this, the project was submitted on October 9 to the ‘Production Control Commission’, which allowed the development and testing of 10 vehicles.

Subsequently, Friedrich passed the reins of the entire project to his former subordinate, chief designer Heinrich Robler. Early next year, a new plan was developed, with the engine and gearbox positioned directly to the right of the middle line of the vehicle, meaning that the protecting torque tubes could be mounted at the right angles to the axles. The innovative design had turned out to be so successful it’s still being used, 70 years later, for the U 4023/U 5023 series.

The term Unimog was first used in March 1946, by Hans Zabel, from Gaggenau, who had been part of the project from beginning, and was inspired by Universal-Motor-Gerat (universally applicable motorized machine).

No other commercial vehicle in the world can function as a tractor, towing vehicle, truck, fire fighting and exploration vehicle, bus and working machine“, the automaker explains.

One year later, the Mercedes Unimog went into production, powered by a 25 horsepower diesel engine, which allowed it to accelerate up to a top speed of 50 km/h (31 mph). Since then, more than 400,000 units have seen the light of day, in numerous variations.


  • Joff

    Hype (derived from hyperbole) is promotion, especially promotion consisting of exaggerated claims.
    I don’t think there can be any exaggerated claims for this vehicle

  • Tumbi Mtika

    The ORIGINAL German Defender.

  • none

    A bit odd, this article says 70 years and it links to an article from 2011 when they celebrated 60 years, which means they aged 10 years in 5 years. Can someone explain that?

SEAT Tarraco Flagship SUV Teased, Debuts On September 18

The new Spanish SUV will offer up to seven seats and go against the likes of the Nissan X-Trail and Skoda Kodiaq.

VW’s Installing Electric Vehicle Chargers For All Across Canada

Electrify Canada will install universal charging stations in the country’s four most populous provinces

Miss Your Chance At A Demon? There’s A Factory-Fresh Pair Up For Auction

The new Redeye may be nearly as good, but if only a Demon will do, check out Mecum Auctions.

Audi Drops One Last Q3 Teaser Before Wednesday’s Reveal

Audi’s slated to reveal the all-new, second-generation Q3 subcompact luxury crossover just two days from now.

Crashed Corvette Grand Sport With 15 Miles On The Odo Looking For A Home

The crashed sports car is currently on sale, with the highest bid standing at $20,600.

Waste Your Time Beautifully With Aston Martin’s DBS Superleggera Configurator

49 exterior paint options are just the start in the online configurator for the new Aston Martin DBS Superleggera.

Marchionne’s Successors Prepare To Spin Off Another Part Of FCA

Following Ferrari and CNH Industrial, Sergio Marchionne’s successors at Fiat Chrysler now weigh spinning off Magneti Marelli into its own unit.

100th Indianapolis 500-Winning Car Looking For A New Home

The very car in which Alexander Rossi won the 2016 Indianapolis 500 is coming up for auction next month in Monterey.

Aston Martin’s New Plant On Track To Start Producing SUVs Next Year

Now entering the final phase of conversion, Aston Martin’s new assembly plant in Wales is on schedule to start building crossovers in late 2019.

The Wheel Bolts On Some Lamborghini Aventador SVs Can’t Handle The Stress

Lamborghini is recalling a handful of Aventador SuperVeloces to better secure their wheel bolts.